At Phonak, we are committed to fighting the stigma attached to hearing loss, to tearing down barriers for the hearing-impaired and to finding new and innovative ways to help everyone reconnect to the beauty of sound. We also know that individuals play a strong role in breaking down those stigmas.
To celebrate those in our community who are being open and proud of their hearing situations, we’ve teamed up with some of our favorite Instagrammers, and asked them to capture their personality and signature looks, and show us what it really means to live with hearing loss.
Last week, we featured 20-year-old Eloise Garland, a music student from the UK.
She is an inspiration to many people – especially teens – with hearing loss, both in what she’s accomplished in her personal life, as well as the unique way she shows of her hearing aids with cool stickers and decorations that she sells on her Etsy.com store, Rainbow Tubes.
You can share your story with us too using the hashtag #lifeison on Instagram! Together we can break down the stigmas of hearing loss.
As a social media community manager, I get to talk to a lot of people about their hearing loss. It’s been amazing to hear people’s stories – whether it’s a mom sharing an Instagram video from the first time her child’s hearing aids turned on, or a post about how new technologies are allowing a hearing aid wearer to enjoy sounds in situations they never before thought possible.
While most of my interactions have been virtual, the raw emotions are still there. I still feel a closeness with anyone whom I can answer a question for or connect them with our community of people facing similar hearing situations.
A few weeks ago, however, I had the opportunity to go offline and connect with a Phonak user in person, during filming for the new Phonak Virto V custom hearing aid testimonial video.
When I first met Josef, I was immediately warmed by his presence. His friendly demeanor and grandfatherly characteristics makes him someone you could sit down with for hours and listen to the stories he could share from his 81 years of life.
If you’re active on social media, you probably have a list of hashtags you use when sharing photos about hearing loss. #HearingLoss, of course, #LifeIsOn – the official Phonak hashtag – and others such as #hardofhearing #deafkidsrock and #hearingaids. One hashtag campaign, however, recently gained international attention, with the important message: #ShowYourAids.
The #ShowYourAids social media campaign exploded this summer thanks to one young woman, Emma Rudkin, who knows from experience how tough it can be to wear hearing aids proudly.
Emma, a 19-year-old Texas native and this year’s Miss San Antonio, started the social media movement and non-profit, Aid The Silent, to raise awareness and support for the deaf community.
I talked with her about the #ShowYourAids movement and how she gained the courage to show off her Phonak hearing aids.
When I suffered sudden sensorineural hearing loss, it was a very isolating experience. Before I discovered Phonak BiCROS aids, I was pretty much unable to converse with people other than by using a Sonido device. The Sonido is a handheld device the size of a cordless phone, which has a microphone and amplifier and a socket that I plugged a ‘one good ear bud‘ in. I was mortified at having to use it outside of the house but it was the only way I could go back to work and do my job as a trainer.
When I first became deafened, however, I suffered terrible vertigo and sickness and I had several days where I couldn’t move my head at all. The only thing I managed to focus on was my mobile phone, and so I found myself turning to social media to combat the isolation I felt.
Through using Twitter, I started to make new friends and, with one of those friends, I started something on Twitter known as ‘#Yorkshirehour‘. Since March 2012, every Wednesday between 8 and 9pm, we’ve facilitated a Twitter hour to help Yorkshire people promote their businesses, events and charities and I’ve made more and more friends — many of whom I’ve now met in real life.
September was a special month for me. As a basketball fan, I was eager to go home every evening and follow the Basketball World Cup in Spain. On September 9th, Slovenia was playing the USA in the second game of the quarter finals. Although I’m a supporter of the French national team, every basketball enthusiast looks forward to watching Team USA and its constellation of NBA superstars display their high-flying skills on the hardwood.
However, this time around it wasn’t the thunderous dunks of James Harden and Anthony Davis that caught my eye, but an unknown member of the Slovenian team who was wearing a headband. Wearing a headband isn’t anything unusual in our sport but in this particular case I was surprised to notice that it was helping the player hold hearing aids behind his ears. Something that wouldn’t have struck me prior to working for Phonak.
Just last month the FDA released their latest Internet and Social Media Guidance for Pharma and Med-tech companies. If you haven’t read it yet, have a look here.
With the rise and use of social media across all industries, Med-Tech was bound to adopt social media at some point, especially given the prevalence of customer usage and relatively cheap way of reaching customers and/or offering customer service via electronic means. The introduction of this document points out that its purpose is to illustrate the agency’s current thinking regarding communication of benefits and risks through social and online media. The hearing aid industry generally does not fall under the exact guidelines as indicated in the latest draft, however the overall suggestions and illustration of what the FDA lays out is obviously food for thought for any health care organization marketing to customers online.
In the U.S. the FDA generally recognizes two types of labeling; that which is required labeling (think approval labeling) and the second which is promotional labeling (subsequent marketing materials/labeling). They recommend considering the following when promoting products on social media and online mediums:
It’s been a year since I joined Phonak as Social Media Manager/Strategist. Previously I worked for a young, cool, and fun watch brand that was the perfect fit for social media. When I decided to change companies people asked me: “Why on earth would you leave your current job to work for the hearing aid industry?” My answer could be summed up in one word: engagement. The kind of engagement Brian Solis has so often written about.
To me, it was obvious that the hard-of-hearing community would bring a deeper level of engagement than the “Wow, cool & nice!” comments that appear whenever a “cool” brand shares something on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. This community would be willing to bond deeper through social channels with the brands manufacturing the devices that truly impact their daily life.